More Aid

When the time comes to write another report on helping this or that Donbass family, I invariably freeze in front of the computer for a long time. The first two hundred such posts were full of my emotions and worries. Then they became repetitive. The emotions and worries. Tolstoy wrote that all happy families are alike, unlike the unhappy ones.
But I came to the conclusion that the range of suffering is not all that wide. There are unbelievably many stories of human suffering, but sometimes when delving into a new one, I catch myself thinking I’ve already heard it somewhere. It happened somewhere else. So how to write about it in a small piece of text without repeating oneself?
Is the pain losing its sharpness? Becoming dulled?
No question about it. It all goes in a circle, and I ever more frequently think about my own grandmothers and grandfathers who survived the war. I ever more frequently hear echoes in my own life of us all being children of war. Grandchildren of war, even though it’s long gone.
From this, the meaning of the Donbass tragedy became for me something that already happened, even though it’s expressed with different words.
But that doesn’t make it easier.

Aleksandra is a single mother of three–Tatyana, Nastya, and Lera. This is one of her daughters.

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Thank you

This is another in a series of reports on people who are under our ongoing care.
Thank you everyone who, in spite of the summer and vacations, is continuing to help the people of the Donbass. Sometimes I’m at a loss for words to express my gratitude for your trust and caring. Nearly every time people respond me with letters which ask me not to thank them. Please allow me that.
It’s very pleasant to “give thanks.” To be sure, one may consider “thank you” to be flattery, but I really want to hug you all.
And now about our people.

Lyubov Mikhailovna is the grandmother of Timur and Elisey. No parents–the mom ran off at the beginning of the war and hasn’t been heard from since. They live off grandma’s pension, there’s no other income. She is disabled due to diabetes and blood pressure problems. She can’t get child benefits since the kids officially have a mother.
To read more about this family, click on the Timur and Elisey tag at the bottom of this post.

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“Please help, they killed mom!”

Anya came under fire during the summer of ’14 when she was on the way to her dacha near Lugansk to dig up some potatoes. She lived in a five-story apartment block and hid in the cellar with broken plumbing during shelling. Shops were closed, there was no electricity or phone service. The city was in isolation. After the city was being “executed” using all manner of Ukrainian artillery, Tanya’s, her son’s Sasha’s, and her mom’s Taisiya Ivanovna’s money and food ran out. They held out as long as they could, it was dangerous to go anywhere. The dacha was about 1km from where “their”–Ukrainian–positions.
August 26 was surprisingly quiet. The woman and her son managed to dig up potatoes before the shelling started.  Actually, it wasn’t really shelling, just one shell. Its fragment cut open Anya’s belly and her entrails fell out while her 8 year old son watched. The girl was conscious the whole time. The boy screamed the whole time “please help, they killed mom!”. A guard came running in response. He collected the entrails as best he could, put them back inside, wrapped it all up with plastic, and took to the hospital. She survived and, suffering from extreme pain, she lived for another two years while constantly taking strong pain medications.

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On Top of a Volcano

Vergunka, one of Lugansk’s regions, was recently hit. It suffered a lot in 2014, and it’s right next to the line of contact. People live there as if on top of a volcano. And they know more shells can come at any moment.
You know well about Vergunka from my reports, it’s where Ira lives, whom we’ve been helping for a long time.
Ira is a single mom who was abandoned in the midst of pregnancy by her husband during the shelling of ’14. She then gave birth, then restored the house which suffered from shelling. Fixed walls, roof, without any water or electricity, and with an infant to take care of. While Ira was hiding from the shells from Lugansk (which was also shelled, but where else was she to go while pregnant?), her house was totally looted, everything was taken out down to forks and spoons.
We’ve been helping Ira with food, medications, pots and pans, clothing.
Brought a computer for her daughter, then collected money in the winter for a gas water heater. Ira has it very hard, she’s alone and has two kids. She works as a clerk in a store, 10-12 hours a day, and the older sister takes care of Vovka. The days off are spent in the garden and on housekeeping. She earns 5,000 rubles a month, which is not the worst salary given Lugansk conditions.
But now Ira begun to have health problems.

Look at how big Vovka is!

Ira has psoriasis. We brought her medications but they aren’t helping much. It’s clear it’s stress-induced, and she’s also discovered a gluten allergy and gastrointestinal atony. Drugs don’t help. Many of our friends have had similar problems which have led to surgeries. By all accounts, she needs to be in a hospital but what to do with the kids? And one can’t put this off, such problems may turn out to be serious if ignored. She needs analyses, but they cost money. She has no money, she’s afraid to lose work because someone else would instantly be hired in her place. Unfortunately, the conditions there are harsh, there’s even a waiting list of people willing to take her job. Jobs in the Republics are scarce these days (((
Ira has not asked us for help herself. We find everything after the fact, when we drop in with food parcels. She always promises to call but has never done so. “It’s awkward for me, there are probably others who need it more.” She returned nearly all the children’s clothes we brought when their kids outgrew them: “I washed them all, they are in good condition. Someone else could definitely use them”…

Our aid. Thanks to all who participate!
Please label all donations for Ira “Ira”.

If you want to join the aid effort for the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebookV Kontakte, or email: Paypal address:

Lena and Roma

This is what happiness looks like. This is what a happy family looks like.
That’s what Lena’s family was like until 2014…
Lena buried Roma right in the garden, among exploding shells, tears, paralyzing fear, and incomprehension of what was happening.
August 19 was hot for Vergunka, a small, long-suffering village on the outskirts of Lugansk.

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“We’ve never seen this much food”–Sveta speaks quietly, in a low voice.
Dear Lord, this is our minimal food packet–groats, chicken, potatoes, eggs…
The girl has a charming smile and a thick braid of red hair–she and her father are on their own, they have no relatives.
I often write about single mothers. It’s particularly depressing to hear about men who abandoned their families in the midst of war and vanished. But there are also other stories–and thank God for them.
Aleksey adores his 11-year old Sveta. Their mom passed away in 2012 of cancer. Two years later the war came. Eight bombs fell around their house in Lugansk, though only three exploded. They were very lucky–though I wanted to put the lucky part in quotes, but they indeed were lucky.
Their neighbors lost their house, whereas Aleksey’s was only half-destroyed. There at least was something left that could be rebuilt. For some reason his house did not get materials under the reconstruction program, so he did everything with his own hands and money.

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“He’s dead to us”

These kinds of post are the saddest to write of them all. Yes, these are stories of people who suffered from the war. But also stories of people who needed help even without the war. Why sadder? Perhaps that’s not the best word, though the emotion does exist. I feel bitterness when I learn of people who abandon their kids. And when they abandon once-loved women with their children in the middle of war, it makes me angry.
I always want to say so much about these “men”, but almost every time I silently leave it to you to judge. I’m read by many people with Donbass ties, and every time I hope that my posts will reach the intended addressee, so therefore I try not to say anything too harsh, so as not to frighten them away. In hopes their conscience will reawaken.
How naive of me…
In nearly every case, these abandoned mothers and children say the same thing: “he’s dead to us.”
Sometime ago that man chose a woman. Decided to build a family, have kids. Of course, there are cases when people can’t live together anymore. That’s a common situation. But what about the kids?
And I find it hard to accept that the kids are no longer wanted. “These “men” don’t feel it necessary to take responsibility for anything  at all. Continue reading

Our Chronicle

I wrote a large, pathos-laden speech before this report but then erased it. Such words are probably unnecessary here.
Bitterness, sadness, sense of injury–these feelings must be removed from posts. It seems that, over the last three and a half years, we got tired of it. And if our earlier stories were full of tragedy, they’ve since become a chronicle. A chronicle of war, of aid, of human fates. I’d like to change a lot in the surrounding us world, but all I can do is talk about tiny fragments of human lives.
These are our “workdays” which are difficult to tell in a novel way every time.
Because they’ve become a “routine”, which fills our days.
For example, the story of Marina and Alyona, two girls who live without their parents.
The older one works and feeds and younger who is a student. They’ve never seen their fathers, the mother is unfit and even the girls say “it’s better she never comes back.”
So here I’m looking at a photo with the older Marine and the aid we brought, and see a very thin girl. Tiny, fragile, and a stuff elephant with a raised trunk. For some reason I wanted to write about the pink elephant. Small, like Marine herself, on a sofa in an apartment where there’s almost no furniture. With a rug as backdrop. The whole internet makes fun of things like that. But the rug keeps the heat in…And decorates the utterly empty apartment.

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Surviving with Grandkids

“Our main food is bread. Flour is cheap here.”
That’s how Zhenya answered when asked what they eat.
It’s an inevitable question, because they earn only 2900 rubles for the whole family a month.
With two kids. With utilities, school supplies, and grandma’s type 2 diabetes and hypertension, in spite of which she’s raising the two grandkids. The mother vanished at the war’s start.
I wrote about this family before–click on the Timur and Elisey tag at the bottom of this post.

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May there be life!

–Why are they giving births? There’s a war on!
There’s been a war on there for over four years. And if our grandmothers and grandfathers weren’t giving births during the Great Patriotic War, then our population, which already suffered catastrophic losses due to the war and hunger, how would it have survived.
It’s impossible to continue to exist for years in hell without trying to LIVE. Giving birth to children is that very life.
I don’t know if I myself would have given birth had I been living in a village right in the line fo fire, like Zaitsevo, Kalinovo, Molodezhnoye. I don’t know. I think I would not, but I have no right to condemn those who did.
But Lugansk itself and many other LPR and DPR towns have not been hit in years. It’s a paradox–people on the outskirts are struggling to survive, but further back life goes on…
How are they surviving?
Here’s how–through clenched teeth. Many understand that it can continue for years. There is no possibility of leaving. So should they commit suicide? They start families, fall in love and yes, give birth, work, survive. And they raise remarkable children. Those who were born in ’14 have long learned to talk and now go to kindergartens to the joy of their parents. Those who were little now go to school. Those kids don’t know any other life, other than life without war.
We brought clothing for children during our March visit. Also food, diapers, and formula.

Masha N. Age 6 months.

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